“Holy Motors” is an arty French satirical dark comedy, and goodness is that a lot of quirky baggage for one movie, yet here they are, daring to be as arty and as French and as wonderfully weird and off the wall as possible. Those out there adverse to such whimsical and sometimes maddening storytelling will find much to dislike in this movie, while conversely those who seek out different and strange movies will stumble across an embarrassment of riches in this twisted journey of one man going about his day’s work.
The best way to see this movie (or just about any movie, in my opinion, which is why you are here to begin with), is with as little information beforehand as possible. That way there are no expectations and nothing is spoiled and the movie can take it’s time in showing it’s cards. If at all possible, bookmark this review and see the movie first and then come back here and read the rest. You’ll have a more bewildering yet exciting and ultimately fulfilling experience, trust me on that one. And this is the internet, so it is not like this review is going to go anywhere. We’ll all still be here when you get back.
Meanwhile, for those who have seen the movie or who want the deets anyway, this is the story of actor Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) and what appears to be a fairly typical day in his life, which consists of being shuttled around town in a limo from appointment to appointment, where he has to perform different deeds in different costumes, while we (and presumably he) are not told why or who is paying for such acts. It’s like he is being hired to do avant garde performances, usually in public (once in a motion capture studio), and often times ending with people in tears, kidnapped, mangled or dead, and it is evident this is all taking it’s toll on Oscar, as he neglects eating and chooses instead to drink between jobs, looking more and more haggard as the day wears on.
What is the point of this weird movie? How are his nine different, random, unconnected appointments telling a singular theme? Oscar is not the only person doing this strange job, and he professes he can not see the cameras (nor do we), and wonders aloud why he continues to do these performances when he is losing the emotional touch to the roles, the love of the craft that used to propel him. Considering how he inhabits characters of different ages, races and genders throughout his day, he covers all the bases, implying that we are all actors on a grand stage, whose lines and actions have been put into place by some unseen and unknown higher being. And whether we feel like it or not, whether we go through the motions or do our best to improvise, the end results are always the same, we are all destined (or doomed) to play out these strings until the very end.
Due to the nature of the story, there are all sorts of elements thrown into this thing that would make one so inclined to describe the movie as a “ride.” Because “Holy Motors” does whip you around, from a violent action sequence to a comedic scene to an disarmingly effective dramatic confrontation between a father and daughter, this movie doesn’t let up, and even when it does it is secretly building up to a climax either horrifying or funny or both.
French. Arty. Pretentious. Whimsical. That’s “Holy Motors,” a movie much unlike any others you have seen before, and one which you surely will have trouble forgetting.